If at first we don’t succeed…we IVF again

I’ve been quiet for what seems like an infertile forever regarding our journey toward making baby #2. I have been so quiet that I almost forgot our infertility struggle, our pregnancy loss at the New Year, and the inevitable fact that infertility treatments would start again (if only I could forget). Waiting is painfully hard, but when you wait long enough life almost goes back to normal. Busyness partially fills the void, distracting from what could have been. Engaging in normal daily activities, volunteering, working, playing with my precious daughter who overflows with giggles and joy…it’s almost enough to settle into life as I know it. Almost enough until I’m reminded of my longing for another child every time I see a pregnant belly, hear a baby crying, or look at my own daughter.Young woman is swinging on a swing in summer forest.

As much as I initially wanted to jump right back into another cycle of infertility treatments, the delay has made me oh so comfortable with the way things are. Feeling “normal” can be so refreshing to the spirit. For the past month I have enjoyed NORMAL. Every moment hasn’t been fixated on infertility. Every moment hasn’t been spent planning what to do next, checking the minute hand to ensure the exact moment to give a progesterone shot, scanning public places to find a semi-private place to draw up a medication without looking like an addict, or assessing if a sharps container has been installed in the bathroom.Gorgeous happy blonde on a bike ride at the beach on a sunny day

Waiting in some ways has been a relief. A respite. I have allowed myself to push infertility to the back of my mind. But, now my reality returns. In order to fulfill my heart’s desire, I must face infertility head on once more. A life without IVF would definitely be so much easier than what lies ahead…a life without daily shots, hormone swings, sore boobs, a swollen behind so sore with injection welts that it’s hard to sit. Who am I kidding? A life without infertility would be eternally easier, but that isn’t an option for me. Wishful thinking, eternal optimism, and determination won’t change anything. So, this time around, I’m holding onto a child like faith and a positive perspective no matter the outcome. I can only move forward.  The rest is out of my control.

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Weary of Waiting…infertile…impatient…in love with the idea of a baby

I’ve been waiting to not be pregnant any more-funny statement from a woman longing for a baby. Since the ultrasound confirmed my miscarriage I’ve been ready to move on. I’ve wanted the bleeding to stop and my hormones to stabilize. My beta-hcg which I had been ecstatically watching trend upward came to a screeching halt and since then has been on the slowest decline ever. It needs to be zero before we can consider restarting another frozen IVF cycle. Since it had been doubling rapidly I assumed that the decline would be just as swift. Silly me to think anything associated with infertility could be swift…other than disappointment.

My b-hcg levels have taunted me for the past several weeks. 600, 500, 320, 215, 120, 64…and finally this past friday…4! Finally a number that means we can move on. I’ve been bleeding for over a month now, just another reminder of our pregnancy failure. The miscarriage bleeding finally slowed last week, but in exchange my period decided to arrive yesterday. Lucky me!Woman With Stomach Ache

I was under the impression that once my b-hcg level zeroed out, I could start right back into another frozen cycle of IVF.  Having achieved a negative number, I urgently scheduled my ultrasound for the next available appointment and pulled out my needles and viles of lupron. Three days felt like two weeks. It was the shortest wait that I’d had thus far, but it still felt like an eternity.Biological clock ticking - woman holding clock in front of stoma

Finally ultrasound day arrived…today! I headed to my OB/GYN office to make sure that my ovaries and uterus were back to normal. If so, I would be injecting myself with lupron by tomorrow. Thankfully, everything looked fine. It took two hours in the doctor’s office this morning to get that news, but I happily dismissed the wait time in exchange for positive results. Now all I needed was the go ahead from my reproductive endocrinologist.

I grabbed the phone on the first ring this afternoon, ecstatic to move forward on our mission to make another baby. The news that I still need to wait another two weeks before I can jump back into infertility treatments has left me feeling disappointed once again. Repeat blood work in two weeks-estrotgen and progesterone this time. Now I’m waiting to ovulate (not that my eggs are contributing to the equation this time around.)Runner Start Runway 2015

Every week that nothing happens feels like a failure. Every week that I’m not pregnant or at least actively working toward that end feels like a disappointment. I’m stuck at the start line. The gun has fired for everyone but me. False start after false start has kept me stuck in the same position with nothing to show for it but more pain and grief. I’m ready to run full speed ahead. I’m ready for infertility to get out of my way. I ready for it to work this time.

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Our Infertility Journey (1.9): Keeping My Head Down and My Hopes Up

Armed with my vials, needles, syringes, and injection pen, I was ready to get started. I prided myself on being tough; and in truth, since I don’t have an abnormally intense fear of needles or blood, the shots were not that bad. After the first self-administered shot, poking myself four times a day became part of a “normal” routine. Yes, it hurt, but I figured if my diabetic patients could give themselves as many shots as they did for a lifetime, I could do this for a few weeks.Abdomen Subcutaneous Insulin Syringe Pen Injection Vaccination

I start off using ice to numb the injection area, but eventually that was just a nuisance. I usually talked to myself out loud just to prepare myself before the poke. It was a quick pep talk reminding myself that, “You can do this! It will be over in two seconds. etc. etc.” A quick poke and burn, and then another poke and burn and I was done. When my stomach started to feel a little like a pin cushion I tried rotating spots; but even so, I bruised with each one. I didn’t mind. I was going to make a baby!

My schedule was dictated by the shots. I had to get a cooler to put them in just in case I wasn’t home when I needed to administer them. I did have Dave try to give me a shot early on just to see if it would make the experience better. Definitely not! Somehow, having control over hurting yourself makes it less painful.

Three patients sitting in doctor's waiting roomNow came the tricky part-trying to work my schedule at work around the IVF clinic schedule. The IVF clinic didn’t offer appointments. It was first come first serve starting at 7:30 or 8 in the morning depending on the doctor. They had instructed me that some women, in an effort to get to work on-time, would get to the waiting room as early as 6 am to sign in. That sounded insane to me. Why wouldn’t they just offer appointments. How inconvenient! You would never know when you would be seen with this set up. I had my own patients to see twenty-five minutes down the road! How was I going to come in for daily ultrasounds and blood draws without knowing my timing? The answer…show up to the waiting room before anyone else. So, that is what I did.

I raced through the parking lot each morning as fast as my feet could carry me.  If I saw the familiar face of another infertility patient I picked up my pace. I needed to get my name in first. I had other people depending on me. I couldn’t change my patient schedule everyday. It wasn’t fair to my patients and their needs.

We usually all ended up on the same elevator ride up to the third floor of the hospital. No one made eye contact. We all knew where we were going and why, but somehow talking about it just seemed like a violation of our privacy. The real though was who was going to get off of the elevator first to put their name at the top of the list. We all had jobs. We all had places to be. No one wanted to seem rude, but everyone jockeyed for position.Outdoor profile portrait of a beautiful thoughtful Chinese Asian

Often the lights were off in the waiting room. The heat had been turned up to an ungodly temperature, and the only people passing in the halls were surgery residents-many of whom knew me. I would quickly sneak to the coveted position in the room-the seat next to the vending machine in the corner. Here I was somewhat safe and out of sight.

We worked on an unspoken honor system. When the nurse finally arrived to take attendance she would start by asking who got there first, second, third etc. Each infertility patient would chime in with their name when their position was called. It was all about who walked through the waiting room door first. No one ever tried to steal a spot. The rush through the door might have been somewhat hostile, but once seated…everyone knew their position in line.

This waiting room should have been filled with comradery, with moral support, and ultimately with friendship. Unfortunately, our emotions were too raw. We each sat with our heads down, our hearts heavy, and our minds consumed with INFERTILITY. We were cautiously optimistic. We held onto hope. We held onto our fairytale dream of a happy ending. If only we had been brave enough to hold onto each other as well…it might have made the journey just a little easier.elegant girl with umbrella sitting on antique chair in the mount

From The Mom in Me, MD